Neither one of us was feeling up to par last weekend, so we opted for a short loop hike of about 1 mile at the Cranberry Bog Preserve in Riverhead. Formerly known as the Woodhull Bog this area was once home to the largest cranberry operation on Long Island. According to John Turner in “Exploring the Other Long Island”, the island was the third largest producers of cranberries in the late nineteenth century. The trail loops around Sweezy Pond which was formed for the purpose of the cranberry operation. The pond is fed by the Little Peconic River.
As we entered the park, I noticed that some of the trees were still in the spring mode of unfurling there leaves for the warmer season ahead; the new growth showing off lovely shades of red. We walked the short path towards the pond. The trail was bordered by a ground cover of shiny leaves. On closer inspection I noticed bell-shaped flowers hiding under the leaves. It took me some time after our hike to identify this as bear-berry(at least that is my best guess) since I have not yet gotten the hang of my Newcomb’s Guide to Wildflowers. Where I assumed that a bell-shaped flower would be classified as “irregular”, the guide informed me that the bear-berry flower actually has “5 regular parts”. Go figure. Exploring the area, we located bell-shaped flowers twice more on two entirely different plants; once on a flowering tree and later on shrubs growing at the water’s edge. Who knew that this unique shaped flower could appear on so many different plants!
It wasn’t long before we arrived at the pond. We stood there for some time watching an egret directly opposite our location. If you look real close, you can spot him on the far side of the pond, near the trees. Of course, when we rounded the pond later on in our rambles, this magnificent bird decided to take off. Still, we enjoyed watching his elegant flight across the lake; the bright white plumage in sharp contrast to the dark colors around him.
Making our way around the pond, we crossed a rather tired looking bridge. We contemplated its worn appearance, at least one missing board and missing rails (one section of rail was actually in the river below) before deciding to venture across. Reaching the middle of the bridge, we paused, observing the river on either side before continuing on our way.
On the far side of this lake, we discovered the remains of a concrete structure. All the sources I consulted informed me that this was the remains of an old pump house, used during the time when the area was an active cranberry operation. While my husband admired the remains of rusty machinery within the structure, I watched a bee gathering pollen from the nearby flowers. We admired the beauty of the flowering bushes near the water once more before returning to our car.